From the shores of Kachemak Bay in scenic Homer, Alaska designer Catrin Lovett incorporates the rare and beautiful ancient fossil walrus and mammoth ivories into one of a kind creations, revealing the natural beauty of these unique and timeless materials.
Fossil walrus ivory and wooly mammoth tooth are two of the few types of ivory available today that do not endanger a living animal. Fossil walrus ivory is either the teeth (shed by the walrus periodically and washed onshore) or tusk pieces. The tusk pieces can be either “fossil” ivory artifacts (thousands of years old) found near centuries-old Eskimo villages or fresh ivory taken legally by the Inuit (Eskimos) and distributed by the Alaska Fish and Game Commission. Wooly mammoth teeth are found in melting glaciers in Alaska and the Siberian tundra. In prehistoric times these animals were not in any ecological danger and the animals were hunted for food and tools. Ivory was considered a gift from the gods and was used by the Eskimo to make tools and utensils.
The Inuit believe that a huge mammoth-like creature they called “kogukhpuk” once roamed the earth threatening man. These creatures were reputedly driven underground by a powerful shaman, but return to the surface one night each year to wander and feed. Underground, they burrow about from place to place, and should they accidentally break through to the surface and breathe air, they instantly die. The tusks and bones found by the Inuit eroding out of frozen river banks and coastlines are taken by them as evidence of the truth of this tale.
Anita crafts top-quality red carved, red polychrome, black carved and black-on-black pottery. She uses only native clays, which she and her husband, Joseph, who is also a Santa Clara Indian, dig from the soil of Santa Clara Pueblo. Anita decorates her pots with rain clouds, kiva steps, water serpents, bears, bear paws, feathers, squash and other ancient stylized images. Her goal is to preserve and pass on traditional designs and techniques, which her people have used for many centuries.
Anita has taught traditional Indian pottery techniques in workshops for the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Davis. Her finely crafted pots are collected by buyers from all parts of the United States and around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection; the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona; the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico; and the Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico. She has won numerous awards at Indian Market, Santa Fe and the Eight Northern Pueblos Indian Arts and Crafts Show, New Mexico.
Anita enjoys creating artwork because “it makes me happy. I enjoy working with the clay. While I’m working on a pot, I focus all my attention on the pot, because when I’m finished, I can be proud of the work that I put into each piece. When I sign my name, I can say I did the work. Then others can also enjoy my artwork.”*
Anita stopped producing her beautiful pottery several years ago.
Pueblo Indian Pottery, 750 Artist Biographies, by Gregory Schaaf.
Artie Yellowhorse, Navajo, is from Corrales, New Mexico. She is known for her wonderful designs and fabrication evident in each piece of her jewelry. The influences of the Navajo culture are readily apparent in her beautiful wearable art, which evolved out of generations of artistic talent. She has two daughters, Desiree and Lei Lani who are involved in the creation and design of the jewelry with her. Desiree has become an accomplished jewelry designer and is well known for her exquisite, one of a kind “Tahy” necklaces, named in honor of her grandmother, Anna Tahy. Lei Lani specializes in making handmade silver beads and also works with Artie in the marketing and public relations end of the business. Artie hopes that the Yellowhorse designs of today live on to inspire the young artists of tomorrow and continue the Navajo concept of “Walk with Beauty”.
Carlos Laate was born in Zuni, New Mexico. He learned traditional pottery making from his step-grandmother, Daisy Hooee by observing and listening to what she had to say about pottery making. It was the same way with his aunt Jennie Laate. Carlos has been making pottery since 1989 and his technique is beautiful. His design elements cover all the traditional Zuni motifs of deer, house, rosettes, rainbirds, lines, curves and geometrics.
Charlie Favour of Camp Verde, Arizona makes some of the finest leather bracelets.Charlie Favour was born in 1950 in Prescott, Arizona. While growing up around ranches and rodeos, he began braiding when he was 11 years old. In 1970, Charlie started doing leatherwork professionally by opening a leather and Native American art store in Aspen, Colorado.
In 1980 he settled in Northern New Mexico where he engaged in the fly fishing business and continued his leather craft. Throughout his career, Charlie has been a serious student of all aspects of Native American crafts as well as leatherwork of the old time cowboys. He has achieved a high degree of expertise in many areas of work including Native American footwear, beadwork, hand-tanning hides, traditional western tooling and braiding.
Charlie’s work can be found in fine custom cowboy galleries throughout the country. His bracelets are worn by both men and women. The leather is engraved or set with turquoise stones and spiney oyster shell. They can easily be adjusted to fit your wrist.These bracelets are not only handsome but durable for everyday wear.I have always loved Charlie’s work and I am very pleased to be offering it. Although he is not Native American, his pieces compliment the Native American style.
Chris Nieto of Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo) is one of my favorite Native American Jewelers.He has a terrific eye for design and color. He is also a master at working with a variety of stones. Born in 1972, Chris attended the Santa Fe Indian School and served in the U.S. Army in Desert Storm. He has received awards for his jewelry from The Heard, the Indian Arts and Crafts Association and Santa Fe Indian Market.
When he was only six years old, Chris started cutting heishi beads from melon shell and baby olive shell in the traditional ways of his pueblo. By ten he was doing inlay work. After his military service, he attended culinary school and became a chef at local New Mexico casinos.
Jewelry was always on his mind and in 2004 Chris decided to make jewelry his full time job. During the Depression, like many Santo Domingo jewelers, his grandfather made inlay jewelry out of old car batteries when traditional materials were unavailable. He also gathered inspiration from his grandmother and mother who would show him their traditional family jewelry. His designs are influenced by his museum research. Chris puts his own contemporary spin on each piece. His goal is to keep the old Santo Domingo traditions alive and to pass them down to new generations.
Clarence and Eleanor Bailon are from Kewa Pueblo (Santo Domingo Pueblo) on the Rio Grande in New Mexico. They have been crafting wonderful jewelry for many years, which is inspired by their Native American homelands and culture. They work with genuine turquoise stones and sterling silver. It is always a pleasure to visit with them at their booth at Santa Fe Indian Market. Clarence’s work is constantly evolving. It is my pleasure to offer their work.
Daniel Borja Ramirez was born on June 1, 1953 and is from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan. He has dedicated himself to being the best painter of contemporary woodland images in memory of his mother. He received a Master in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. He creates Woodland Arts for several Native American tribes. In 1999, Daniel received the prestigious Dupont Antron Award for his work in carpet design. He consults and supports tribal entities with art matters concerning museum and casino designs and renovation. Daniel has won numerous awards for his work in watercolors, acrylics and for his drawings in charcoal and pastels.
Don Standing Bear was born in Massachusetts, the son of Andres “Grey Wolf” Forest and Esther “NightDancer” Forest. He is a member of the SOU’ West Nova Metis (Canada) and the Mi’Kmaq/Abenaki/Huron tribes. Don’s grandparents, parents and sisters have been influential in his pursuit of his native heritage and artistic expressions. Don lives in the Two Rivers area of Alaska. He is the keeper of the “Walks the Nation Drum” and he teaches traditional Native American Drumming Dancing and arts and crafts to elementary students. In his spare time he helps his wife Edie with her 17 sled dogs. Don is one of the few Native Craftspeople recreating Wampum work. He uses either True Wampum or Glass Wampum Beads. True Wampum Beads come from the shell of the Quohog or Round Clam. Glass Wampum Beads were first imported around 1702 for trade. Wampum beads were highly prized by the native peoples of the East Coast. “Belts” or strings of Wampum Beads were used not only as ornamentation, but often told a story and were a pledge of the truth of the words being spoken when such “belts” were held or worn. Each of Don’s “belts” has a meaning and he encourages you to honor and respect these meanings as you bring some of the traditional lifeway’s of the eastern native peoples into your life. Don’s vision is to further expand his horizon and share the gift of creativity the Great Sprit has blessed him with.Each piece of Native American Jewelry Don creates is truly special incorporating centuries of tradition and culture.
Erick Begay is a master Navajo silversmith and goldsmith with more that twenty years experience. He is also an award-winning artist who has won several awards, including Santa Fe Indian Market. His family has been involved in Native American jewelry for generations. His mother, Frances Begay, taught him the art of silver-smithing while she sold it in Santa Fe. He started making jewelry when he was eleven and when he turned sixteen he became a full-time jeweler. Erick works in both sterling silver and gold and uses only the highest quality gemstones. His techniques include tufa stone casting, lost wax casting, sand casting, inlay, stone setting and. It is a real pleasure to offer his work to you.
Navajo Master Silversmith, Gary Custer, is known for his exquisite high end precious metal work. Gary was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in Ft. Defiance, Arizona, near Gallup, New Mexico. He was raised around his grandparents from the time he was young. English is his second language. Knowing the Navajo language has helped him to communicate with his grandparents. His great grandfather, Frank Apache (Tall Silversmith) was a well-known medicine man. He knew the Blessing Way Ceremony which is the backbone of the Navajo culture.
After high school, Gary entered college and majored in automotive technician. In the summer of 1989 he started working in Navajo Silversmithing. His parents are longtime silversmiths and have a well-known background in old traditional Navajo sandcast jewelry.
Gary states that his “business name ‘Twin Feather Designs’ came to be when my mother handed down some of the old sandcast samples of her work.” His work combines both contemporary and traditional designs in tufa cast and stamp work. He is self-taught.
Gary has won awards for his pieces at SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Heard Museum Guild Fair, Phoenix, AZ; and, Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Fair, New Mexico. His work is highly sought after by collectors.
Born in Quanah, Texas, George “Shukata” Willis (Choctaw) has been a working jeweler since 1964. Schooled in art at the University of Texas, George later moved to California where he furthered his training at the Southern California College of Jewelry Design and the Starline Jewelry School in Los Angeles. He then opened his own jewelry business and studio in Oceanside, Carslbad and Rancho Santa Fe, California along with teaching jewelry making as a trade to Disabled American Veterans through the Veterans Administration. George creates his designs using a wide variety of material and techniques. He uses gold, platinum and silver, a myriad of precious and semi-precious stones and buffalo horn. He creates one of a kind and limited edition pieces. His designs are original signed and many have been copyrighted. In 1990 George made the decision to close his retail jewelry shop in order to pursue his longtime dream of creating jewelry as art that reflected his sense of connection to his Choctaw heritage. Since then, he has been showing his work at art shows around the country.
George is currently a resident of Carlsbad, California where he has served as a member of the City Arts Commission. He has also been a Member of the Board of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association since 1997. In 2008 he was a featured artist at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the Voices from the Mound Exhibition. He has won awards at the Indian Arts and Crafts Show, the Red Earth Show, The Heard Museum, The Inter-Tribal Ceremonial, the Powhatan Renape Nation Festival and the Choctaw Nation Fair. George “Shukata” Willis was chosen as the Indian Arts and Crafts Association Artist of the Year, a well-deserved honor for an exciting and unique artist.
Georgia Sanchez of Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo) makes the most exquisite mosaic jewelry. Every piece of Turquoise, Spiney Oyster and Mother of Pearl is hand-cut and precisely inlaid into (not on top of) Black Jet. This process involves carving the design into the Jet for the placement of each small stone/shell. It is a painstaking process that results in stunning jewelry. Although the mosaic process is very old and is found in jewelry discovered in ancient cliff and pueblo sites, Georgia’s designs are distinctly contemporary. She is a cousin to Kewa jeweler Eileen Rosetta.
Have questions? Our customer services will be happy to assist you with all your questions regarding any of our jewelry pieces. Please give us a call at (540) 222-4997 for assistance.
There is a great story behind the Harvey House Style Jewelry.
As the railroads pushed west in the late 1800’s, there was a demand for more services for the comfort of passengers. Enter entrepreneur Fred Harvey. The Fred Harvey Company established a business relationship with the Santa Fe Railway as it built tracks from Kansas City to Dodge City to Santa Fe to Albuquerque and eventually The Grand Canyon and all the way to Los Angeles. Harvey opened his first depot restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in 1876. By the 1880’s he had contracts that enabled him to set up a series of restaurants known as Harvey Houses every 100 miles along the Santa Fe Railway’s transcontinental route. Some evolved into Hotels. These establishments enabled passengers to get off the train and eat quality food served with the high standards Fred Harvey required. Harvey Houses were a far cry from the stark and exhausting train ride endured by travelers in the beginning days of train travel west.
Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe Railway engaged in a master marketing campaign targeting the natural landscapes and cultural experiences that awaited visitors to the Southwest. The Grand Canyon was the crown jewel of these trips. The railroad built a spur from Williams, Arizona (on the main line of the Santa Fe Railway) to the canyon’s south rim in 1901. The Harvey House grand El Tovar Hotel, which sits right on the rim, opened in 1905. Other tourist related facilities opened soon after.
The Santa Fe Railway also partnered with Fred Harvey to expand its passenger adventures deeper into Pueblo Indian Country with a railroad spur to Santa Fe (North America’s first capital city). The La Fonda Hotel was built by Harvey at the end of the Santa Fe Trail just off the Plaza. Tourists visited the culturally rich area in “Harveycars” on what were called “Indian-Detour Trips”. Pueblos, old Spanish settlements and the rich history of the city of Santa Fe were explored.
Harvey employed and showcased many Indians and their artwork at his hotels. Two of the most famous locations were the Fred Harvey Indian Building adjoining The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque and Hopi House at the Grand Canyon next to El Tovar. Only Hopi House still stands. Harvey had Native demonstrations of weaving, pottery making and other art forms not only to educate tourists by also to entice them to buy curios made by Indians.
Harvey House Style Jewelry, made by Indians, featured thunderbirds, arrows, Turquoise stones and other designs that were encouraged by Fred Harvey as being “what the tourists wanted”. A whole industry grew up around the Harvey House experience of travelers to the Southwest. Today, Harvey House Style Jewelry of the early to mid-1900’s has become very collectible. I hope you will enjoy the selection we have in stock.
The Hopi people trace their history in Arizona to more than 2,000 years, but their history as a people goes back many more thousands of years. According to their legends, the Hopi migrated north to Arizona from the south, up from what is now South America, Central America and Mexico.
The tribe’s teachings relate stories of a great flood and other events dating to ancient times, marking the Hopi as one of the oldest living cultures in documented history. A deeply religious people, they live by the ethic of peace and goodwill. Social and kachina dances are performed today as they have been for centuries.
The Hopi Reservation, in northeastern Arizona, occupies part of Navajo and Coconino counties and encompasses approximately 1,542,306 acres. It is surrounded by the Navajo Reservation. Having inhabited this high and dry area since the 12th century, the Hopi have developed a unique agriculture practice, “dry farming.” Instead of plowing their fields, Hopi traditional farmers place “wind breakers” in the fields at selected intervals to retain soil, snow and moisture. They also have perfected special techniques to plant seeds in arid fields. As a result, they succeed in raising corn, beans, squash, melons and other crops in a landscape that appears inhospitable to farming.
Throughout the Hopi reservation, every village is an autonomous government. However the Hopi Tribal Council makes law for the tribe and sets policy to oversee tribal business. The Hopi villages are found at both the base and the top of three mesas dominating the landscape. These mesas project to the south from the enormous Black Mesa formation like fingers on a giant hand. Walpi, on First Mesa, is widely considered the most spectacular of the Hopi villages as it is terraced into a narrow rock table. Old stone Houses appear to cling to the cliffs, overlooking an expansive view that is largely unchanged by the centuries. The village of Orabi is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. The Hopi people are internationally acclaimed as artisans. First Mesa is known for their pottery; Second Mesa is well known for coiled basketry. Third Mesa is renowned for wicker basketry, weaving, kachina doll carving and silversmithing.
Hopi artists were encouraged by the Museum of Northern Arizona in the late 1930’s to create a unique style of jewelry to differentiate their work from the Navajo and Zuni. Paul Saufkie and Fred Kabotie used designs from Hopi pottery, baskets and other art forms in a distinct silvermithing style known as the overlay technique. This silver work involves cutting out an intricate design on one piece of silver and then adhering that to a solid piece of silver underneath. After World War II, Paul Saufkie taught Hopi veterans this technique through a program sponsored by the G. I. Bill. Victor Coochwytewa, a student, further developed the technique whereby the bottom silver piece is oxidized thus allowing the cutout designs to show more prominently. The Hopi Silvercraft Cooperative Guild was formed by Paul and Fred in 1949. It continues today to provide a place for Hopi silversmiths to learn and refine their unique style.
(From Inter Tribal Counsel of Arizona)
I am a great fan of James and Doris Coriz of Kewa Pueblo (Santo Domingo). Jewelry-making is truly a family affair. James hand-cuts every stone and shell and Doris and the rest of the family help to string their beautiful Native American jewelry. The Corizs’ are known for their stunning traditional fantail necklaces made with spiney oyster shell and high grade Kingman Turquoise. These necklaces can be seen on Native dancers at Kewa Pueblo as well as fashion models.
Jeremy and Eileen Rosetta are from Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo). Kewa is one of the 19 Pueblos in New Mexico. Their Pueblo people were originally from Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.The Rosetta’s create authentic, handmade Native American Jewelry of the highest quality. The mediums used are sterling silver, brass, copper, natural turquoise and shells. Traditional and contemporary designs are used along with the petroglyph symbols. Their designs are original and one of a kind. Their work has been featured at Santa Fe Indian Market, The Heard Museum Guild Fair and the National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center.
I have had the pleasure of having lunch at the Rosetta’s home at Kewa. Jeremy’s mother and a neighbor joined us for homemade tamales, chick pea salad, red chile and fresh Indian bread baked in a traditional outdoor Pueblo “horno” oven. It was a wonderful family meal.
The Rosetta’s are lovely people and their jewelry reflects their traditional lifestyle at Kewa with an infusion of modern design elements. Each piece is truly special. Some of the designs they use are:
Zia Sun – Source of Life/Sun with the four directions. Corn Plant – Life. Hummingbird – Harmony. Shaman – Spiritual Guide and Protector. Rain Cloud with Lightning – Blessings and Power. Moon – Rebirth. Continuity of Life. Stars – Inspiration and Guidance. T – Traditional symbol of Kewa for Turquoise Swirl – Journey of Life. Raindrop – Blessing. Hand – Friendship, Healing, Wisdom Circle – Circle of Life.
Jimmy Poyer was born in 1954 close to Mexican Water, Arizona and was raised near Red Mesa, south of the Four Corners. His traditional Navajo family upbringing gave him a strong sense of values. He attended high school in Shiprock and did well in school. He spent a few semesters at BYU and the University of New Mexico before deciding that college was not for him. Instead, he felt the lure of travel and his first love, music. He played lead guitar and sang vocals for nearly two decades, many times as the opening act for well-known country performers everywhere from Canada to Mexico. He began to work as an apprentice to renowned jeweler, Jimmie Harrison when he wasn’t on tour. It wasn’t long before he began to make jewelry on his own, borrowing the inlay style from Harrison, but creating his own unique Native American designs.
This new passion for making jewelry coincided with his desire to quit traveling and stay home with his wife Theresa and their children. While his jewelry is sold across the country in fine galleries and museum shops and demand for his work is high, Poyer has resisted the temptation to set up a shop with other people producing his work or to cast the silver and gold for his designs. Every piece is built by hand from sheet silver, wire and natural stones. He enjoys working with turquoise, but is fascinated with the patterns and colors from shells, malachite, jet, coral, sugilite, lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones. Jimmy Poyer is proud of every piece he creates. His greatest pleasure comes from having others enjoy his work. He presently lives in Farmington, New Mexico.
Kirk Smith, Navajo, was born January 27, 1957 in Breadsprings. He was a prolific silversmith who produced stunning silver and stone Navajo Jewelry from 1972 until his untimely passing in 2012.
"My grandfather made jewelry and began teaching me. He was very secretive about it. In a canyon away from their hogan he had dug out the earth and then placed brush and tree limbs over the top. This was his workshop and you would not see it unless you knew it was there. I stayed with my grandparents until the 1960s. He kept his workshop away from the house. I was around 9 years old. Then I went to live with my mother in Crownpoint.
"Around 1972, I went out on my own. Started making my first pieces and would sell to Gilbert Ortega. The work was all silver and was sand cast work. However, when silver got high around 1974 I stopped making jewelry and went to work for the mine. I did lots of different stuff, even worked for a refinery around Galveston. Did these different jobs for the rest of the 1970s.
My sister was married to Harry Morgan (Master Navajo Silversmith) and he really taught me how to design a piece. Before, I never really paid much attention to the style. That changed because of Harry. He also had a big name and was well known. I wanted to be one of those people. My grandfather told me, "When you leave something here, your name will always be here."
(from American Indian Jewelry III, M-Z, by Schaaf)
Kirk Smith's work is some of the finest produced and is highly collectible. His death has left a huge hole in the high end Navajo jewelry marketplace.
Bruce was born in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1959 to a full-blooded Navajo mother and an Anglo father. In those days it was a long ride while in labor from Hotevilla on the Hopi reservation to the little Flagstaff hospital approximately 125 miles away. Bruce’s mother was Mary Hunt Dodge Hodgins from the Toadlena/Crystal area of New Mexico related to the great Chee Dodge. Bruce’s father is of Irish, English, Scottish decent and worked as an educator and school principal all his life on southwestern reservations, starting with the Walapai in the 1940’s and retiring in 1982 after twenty-five years at Hopi.
At Hopi, Bruce studied with Sidney Secakuku, Jr. and learned to make overlay jewelry in true Hopi tradition. As his studies continued in jewelry making and biology at Northern Arizona University Bruce added traditional Navajo styles later working into contemporary pieces that incorporate both Hopi and Navajo characteristics. “My ideas come from many places”, states Bruce, “often I combine traditional with contemporary styles and mix techniques in a subtle way. Our Earth provides many colored stones to use and enjoy and I take advantage of those differences in much of my work. My use of turquoise has been limited in recent years because of my attraction to exotic and domestic stone.”
Today Bruce has evolved into a master silversmith. He is said to build, “a Cadillac” in Indian jewelry using heavy gauge silver and unusual stones. Diverse in his abilities, with an attention to quality and detail, Bruce does all work from design to finish himself. Each work is individually designed with a classic simplicity and each element of his work needs to be itself yet complement other elements. Bruce works with harmony, balance, color, texture, contrasts, repetition, shape, form, tradition and innovation. Bruce is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, hiking, exploring back country and riding his mountain bike. He likes to spend time with his wife Laura, their two dogs and LT the cat.
Lee Marmon is America’s best known and most widely respected Native American photographer. For the past fifty years, Lee Marmon has used the magic and power of his camera lens to immortalize the noble spirit and enduring legacy of his elder tribes people in his native Laguna, New Mexico. The passing of time has turned his prolific collection of rare and high quality photographs – both portraits and landscapes – into a breathtaking album of images that he proudly calls, “Visions of My People.” Mr. Marmon’s original negatives are now in the Museum of New Mexico’s collection.
Today, at age 87, Lee Marmon is still driven by his love and passion for his craft. From his photography studios in Laguna, New Mexico, Lee personally produces and signs each high-quality print from its original negative, using time-tested, professional darkroom techniques. Mr. Marmon was awarded SWAIA’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. This honor selects practitioners in the Indian arts and culture for a lifetime of outstanding work. The award celebrates and pays homage to those unique individuals who, through their singular passion, creativity, and commitment to excellence in their crafts, have created a legacy of exceptional integrity that will inspire future generations of native artists. A collection of Mr. Marmon’s prints hang in the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology at Phillips Academy, Adover, Massachusetts.
Lee Marmon was born on the Laguna reservation in New Mexico in 1925, and has lived there for most of his life. He bought his first camera at the age of 25, and made an early practice of shooting portrait images of the aging senior members of his Laguna tribe, and neighboring tribes, including the Acoma tribe in New Mexico. His distinguished collection of thousands of black and white images have since become a national historical and cultural treasure, as they comprise a rare visual chronicle of the last generation of Native Americans to live by their traditional ways and values. His best-known photograph, “White Man’s Moccasins,” (1954) has been reproduced and published worldwide. From the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, Mr. Marmon lived and worked in California, where he served as official photographer for the Bob Hope Desert Classic. His images have appeared in various national publications, including The New York Times and Time Magazine. In 1992, he won an ADDY Award for contributing to the Peabody Award-Winning PBS-TV documentary, “Surviving Columbus”. (From the Lee Marmon Website)
From the age of eight (8), Mary Small helped her mother make pottery and weave yucca baskets. Today, she is one of the leading potters from the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico. In 1975, Mary stopped using paint and started using only clay glazes. She developed her own technique for a gray glaze and is now known for her white and gray designs on a light red base. She uses white clay from San Felipe Pueblo for pure white designs. The delicate matte gray has become a trademark of her pots. The gray glaze is made from the Rocky Mountain bee plant that is boiled down into a sticky pigment and then mixed with white clay. Her work includes traditional and contemporary designs often inset with Turquoise. Mary was the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA) Artist of the Year in 2002 and 2010. She is truly a treasure.
Michael Kirk is from the Isleta Pueblo along the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. He is also of Navajo decent. He was born in 1949 and began making jewelry in 1971 after serving in the Marines in Vietnam. He is known for his delicate feather designs. Michael hand cuts his designs and adds etched and carved details to make each feather realistic. His satin finish is spectacular. Michael has won many awards for his jewelry including first place at Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial and Best of Division at Santa Fe Indian Market. He was named artist of the year in 1997 by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association. As with many Native American artists, the jewelry business is a family affair with Michael’s wife Marie, daughter Elizabeth and son Lawrence involved in various aspects of the business.
Myron Panteah (Navajo/Zuni) of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico was born in 1966 andis a third generation jeweler. Myron’s jewelry features petroglyph designs in sterling silver and 14k gold. He keeps an index of the petroglyph motifs the he has sketched from rock art sites near Zuni Pueblo. He uses a combination of cutout, stamp work, overlay and applique techniques. Instead of using traditional turquoise and coral he uses earthy colored stones such as jasper, agate and dinosaur bone. Myron creates his jewelry in steps. He builds the silver frames first; then he uses a fine saw to cut out minute and delicate designs freehand that he solders onto the frame. After the applique work, he cuts out further designs on the silver frame. In 2001 he was quoted in Native Peoples Magazine: “My ideas come to me while I am working. Many of my pieces have migration and water symbols incorporated into their design. The spiral is a migration symbol – it is like the solar system, the spirals on our fingertips, the rings in a tree.” Myron’s pieces have won awards at Santa Fe Indian Market and Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.
Nocona J. Burgess is from Lawton, Oklahoma and is the great-great grandson of Chief Quanah Parker (who is the subject of this painting). He comes from a family of artists. In 1991, Nocona graduated from the Institute of American Indian Art (IACA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico with an Associate in Fine Arts degree. He then attended the University of New Mexico with an emphasis in studio art and Native art history. He left the art world for several years to work in a casino rising to the management level. The art world called to him and in 1997 he returned to Oklahoma and enrolled in the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) to work on his B.F.A. After graduation, he returned to New Mexico to live in Santa Fe and, as they say, the rest is history!
Nocona’s paintings are highly sought after by collectors and museums. He has been featured in such magazines as Southwest Art, Western Art Collector, Cowboys and Indians, Santa Fe Magazine Indian Market Issue and New Mexico Magazine. He has won numerous awards at SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market (including first place in 2018), The Heard Museum Guild Fair, Eiteljorg Indian Market, Red Earth Festival and American Indian Art Exposition. Nocona’s works have been featured in numerous galleries and art markets around the United States. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) .
The Navajo People are well known for their fine silversmithing, weaving and sandpainting traditions which express traditional Navajo culture and contemporary life. Navajo jewelry is noted for larger pieces with symmetrical and simple designs set with larger Turquoise stones.
Traditional execution of silversmithing includes the use of various stamping patterns, geometric designs and silver leaves. Jagged-edged or smooth rounded bezels are crafted to hold and set stones.
Navajo weavings (rugs) are hand woven with hand spun natural colored wool, vegetal dies or commercial wools on upright looms and reflect designs from various locations on the Reservation.
Sandpaintings are part of the healing ceremonies performed to cure various illnesses. Traditional Sandpaintings are created in the earth and destroyed after the ceremony. Each piece of Navajo art is a reflection of the cultural, familial and dramatic geological heritage of the Navajo Nation.
Historically nomadic, the Navajo people migrated into the Southwest about the same time Spanish explorers arrived in the mid-1500′s. The Pueblo people taught farming to the Navajos, who in turn learned about sheep herding and ranching, which were introduced to the Southwest by Spanish colonizers. The largest (sixteen million acres), most populous (298,000 people) Native American Nation in the United States, the Navajo Nation, is located in the Four Corners Area, covering northwest New Mexico, northeast Arizona and southeast Utah. Its capital is Window Rock, Arizona. Three other Navajo Bands are located away from the main reservation in the Communities of Alamo, To’hajiilee and Ramah in New Mexico.
The Dine’ (in Navajo–”The People”) have endured many hardships. During the infamous “Long Walk” of 1863 – 1866, more than 8,000 Navajos were forcibly marched and incarcerated at Bosque Redondo near Ft. Sumner, New Mexico by the U. S. Army. Native Americans have served notably in every U. S. conflict since World War I. Perhaps the most well known were the Navajo Code Talkers. These men communicated military strategy over the South Pacific battlefield airwaves in the Navajo language. Japanese code breakers were never able to figure out what these Navajo soldiers were transmitting. The last of the original Navajo Code Talkers died in 2014.
Ola was born May 29, 1949 at Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico. She has won awards for her jewelry at prestigious shows such as, SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, Indianapolis, IN; and the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ. For many years, she participated in the Hopi-Zuni Artist Show in Japan. Her work is sought after by collectors from all over the world. I had the pleasure of meeting Ola at Zuni on a recent buying trip. She and her husband Tony are talented, delightful people. Along with the top quality jewelry they design and make, they are truly warriors in the fight against Native American “knock-off” jewelry and arts. They founded the Council for Indigenous Arts and Culture and have a terrific display they take to all their shows to educate buyers on what is real and what is fake.
Orville Tsinnie' family (Navajo) lives in Shiprock, New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation. He was born in Tuba City, Arizona in 1943 and passed away on May 23, 2017. It was a privilege to know him. After attending high school in Tuba City and Chinle, Arizona, he went to the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas to study commercial business. He came back to the Navajo Reservation and landed a job with the Navajo Police Department. He enjoyed the work but after watching an autopsy one day he turned in his weapon and uniform. He then variously worked delivering commodity foods, in a job development program and as Assistant Director of Personnel for the Navajo Nation. After those life experiences, he finally came to silversmithing through family and friends who encouraged him. He created jewelry beginning in1970 in traditional, hand-wrought, heavy stampwork, nugget and contemporary designs. His work is defined by the top quality Natural Stones and use of solid Sterling Silver and Gold. Orville won many awards at the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market. His jewelry is seen in many collections around the world and is featured in Silver & Stone, Profiles of American Indian Jewelers, by Mark Bahti.
Rance Hood is one of the few Native American artists left who still paints in the manner which echoes the traditional Indian culture and spirituality of the past that has been drastically changed by the modern and white worlds. Hood grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma in the home of his maternal grandparents who taught him Comanche Indian ways and values. The son of a white father and a Comanche mother, he learned Comanche traditions from his maternal grandparents. His grandfather taught him the peyote religion and told him stories about great Comanche warriors of the past. When his grandfather passed away he handed down the medicine to Rance. He sleeps in a room full of it and prays every morning and every evening in the medicine ways. When he works around medicine he will get a vision or a title and he will see the scene and paint it.
A self-taught artist, Hood has introduced some abstract motifs into his backgrounds, but he adheres mainly to the traditional style of art practiced by his ancestors. Today, forty plus years beyond his original success as a major Indian artist in the 1960’s, Rance Hood is still considered one of the most successful Plains Indian artists. There is a storm center or animating force which charges Hood’s art with vitality. Hood’s storm center is his expression of his ancient tribal heritage, his visionary spiritual life, and a practicing mysticism. His themes are mystical, spiritual, developing his work through the customs and religious practices which were passed down to him. Coexisting with Hood’s control of the painting process is a mysticism that also distinguishes his work.
Rance Hood’s paintings have won numerous awards from the American Indian Exposition, Anadarko, OK; Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa; American Artists Lithograph Competition for Poster Art; and Santa Fe Indian Market. His paintings are owned by Museums across the country including the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City; the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.; The Heard Museum, Phoenix; Indy 500 Speedway, Joseph Coors Suite, Indianapolis; and the Thomas Gilgrease Institute of American History and Art, Tulsa. Additionally, Hood’s paintings are in the collections of Al Unser, Jr., Johnny Rodriquez, Michael Martin Murphy, Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Conners, Joseph Coors and Reba McEntire.
Randy Secatero was born on the small Canoncito Navajo Reservation thirty miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This part of the reservation is not contiguous with the major part of the Navajo Nation and represents less than one percent of the total Navajo Nation.
He took jewelry making in high school but got his major inspiration from his mother, Dorothy Secatero, who showed him how to properly use tools and work with silver.
Randy began working on his own and was soon selling jewelry to shops in Santa Fe and at Indian Art Shows in New Mexico.
After twenty years of making jewelry, he convinced his partner, Sylvana Apache, to retire from her job and start making jewelry with him. Sylvana is also a Navajo from Canoncito and, in addition to helping with the jewelry, she helped to plan their business and worked to create new designs.
Randy and Sylvana had always worked exclusively in Sterling Silver, but when metal prices climbed to record levels, they began to combine copper and silver.
“It is really difficult,” says Sylvana. “The metals melt and solder at different temperatures and to get that just right is hard.”
They have perfected the skill of combining the metals and that, combined with their precise and exact stamp work, has created a unique look. Their jewelry stands out for the quality of the work.
According to Randy, many people like the jewelry for the therapeutic value of the copper.
As Randy puts it, “I will continue to do the silversmithing as along as my eyes and hands allow me to. We enjoy our work and hope everyone does too!”
Native American Artist, Raymond Nordwall is a member of the Pawnee tribe of Oklahoma and the Red Lake Chippewa. He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Raymond paints in a variety of media including monotype, acrylics, watercolor, mixed media and oils. His pieces are filled with vibrant colors reminiscent of the French and American impressionists, cubists and pop artists. His subject matter encompasses Native American tribal, portrait, landscape and wildlife scenes. Raymond’s horsemen appear to be riding straight at you and running off the canvas. Growing up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, he learned to dance at age 6 and attended the powwows every summer. By the age of 12 he was selling his paintings through galleries around Oklahoma. He attended Oklahoma State University and Bacone College, studying with western artist Dick West. He graduated from the IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) in Santa Fe. He then worked for and studied with renowned Native American artist, Frank Howell. Howell taught Raymond the monotype process for which he is so well known.
Raymond is a true family man. His wife Gina and his children are the most important things in his life. “Nature and my family are my greatest inspirations. I love the act of creating and I usually paint 6 – 8 hours a day. Painting is very therapeutic for me. It’s gotten me through the best and worst times of my life. I enjoy working in different mediums. I realize something in one medium and it carries over to the other mediums, so my body of work, hopefully, will be constantly growing and evolving.”
A monotype is a printed painting. It is a combination of printmaking, painting and drawing. Unlike a print, no two monotypes are the same. It is a spontaneous and difficult technique to master. The end result is a unique translucency that creates a quality of light very different from a painting on paper or a print.
A giclee print is an image generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto canvas, fine art or photo-base paper. The process results in true color accuracy of the original artwork not obtained by other means of reproduction. Raymond’s giclees are printed on the finest quality archival paper. They display the quality of an original work of art at a fraction of the price. Each one is signed and numbered from a limited edition. I hope you enjoy Raymond’s work as much as I do and will consider adding it to your home or office collection.
“Roland Begay is a Navajo silversmith who is famous for his storyteller jewelry. He was born near Gallup, New Mexico. He attended a boarding school in Gallup and spent his summers working on a ranch. There he learned about training and raising barrel racing horses. He went on to compete in rodeos with his barrel horses and also riding bulls. Roland’s father taught him leather working and how to make saddles. His saddles were highly sought after. Roland’s also learned silversmithing from his father and in l974 he began producing the unique type of jewelry that has made him famous with collectors. Roland creates scenes from Navajo life in his jewelry using an overlay technique. He cuts out hogans, people, horses and other parts of the pictures and solders them into a background of silver or gold. He also is well known for his intricate Navajo basket jewelry made with copper and silver.” The basket jewelry is beautifully individually hand-made like no other silversmith working today.”
Roland’s work has won him awards at the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, New Mexico and The Heard Museum Guild Show, Phoenix, Arizona.
(from American Indian Jewelry II A-L, by Gregory & Angie Schaaf)
Located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Santo Domingo Pueblo (Kewa) is one of the largest (3200) and most conservative of the Rio Grande Indian Pueblo tribes in New Mexico. When Don Juan de Onate visited Santo Domingo in 1598, the pueblo was located on the north bank of the Galisteo Creek, a few miles east of the present village. Galisteo floodwaters washed this village away shortly afterwards and the survivors established a new Pueblo on the Rio Grande. Flood waters struck Santo Domingo in 1692 and again in 1886, washing away much of the Pueblo each time. Most of the present pueblo and the present mission church were built since the disastrous flood of 1886.
During much of the Spanish colonial period, Santo Domingo was an important Franciscan mission center and the ecclesiastical capital of New Mexico. A mission church erected here before 1607 by Fray Juan de Escalona, was considered one of the largest and finest in New Mexico. It was washed away in the 1886 flood, but most of the records and religious objects were saved.
Santo Domingo is known for the tiny handmade Olivia Shell beads known as heishi (from the Santo Domingo word meaning “shell”). Some heishi necklaces contain over 10,000 miniscule beads and look like strands of hair. Today, the word heishi is used to describe tiny, handmade beads of any material. In the ancient necklaces made by Ancestral Pueblo people each hole was drilled with a cactus needle and sand. Modern innovations include power tools and large beads featuring inlaid patterns of other stones.
Santo Domingo artists are also famous for inlaid/overlaid pieces, featuring turquoise and other stones set on a shell base. Shell mosaic is a trademark style of Santo Domingo jewelry, drawing on a tradition dating back many centuries. Many modern Pueblo artists consciously style their inlaid jewelry after styles and patterns unearthed by archaeological research, found in rock art or on display in museums. Much of Santo Domingo’s jewelry is strikingly similar to Ancestral Pueblo, or Anasazi, jewelry unearthed at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. Modern day artists break from the past by using nontraditional stones such as green Gaspeite and purple Sugilite in more contemporary designs.
Selena Warner is a Navajo Silversmith from Gallup, New Mexico. She has been perfecting her craft for nearly twenty years. Her favorite projects to work on are multi colored necklaces and multi stone earrings which incorporate Spiny Oyster Shell and various types of Turquoise stones.
Selena taught herself how to shape stones and has been shaping her own Spiny Oyster Shell and Turquoise stones for many years. She also incorporates the old fashioned Navajo silversmithing techniques into her jewelry. She learned many techniques from her father-in-law, Master Jeweler Harry Morgan, and applies his methods of silversmithing to her work.
Selena’s jewelry looks as though it could have been made sixty years ago. She uses the finest Natural Turquoise and other stones. Much of her work is made with Sterling Silver that she rolls herself. Her work is noted for the satin finish she puts on every piece to give it an antique look.
Shane R. Hendren was born in the fall of 1970 in Gallup, New Mexico, 30 miles south of his hometown of Tohatchi on the Navajo Reservation. As a three year old his mother observed his desire and ability to draw. He drew what he was surrounded by – horses, cattle, cowboys and indigenous people. As he matured, Shane continued to draw, paint and explore any creative avenue that was available to him.
Shane concentrated on art and agriculture while attending Moriarty High School, Moriarty, New Mexico. In the summer of 1987 the Marie Walsh Sharp Summer Art Institute at Colorado State College recognized his work and dedication to the arts and he was selected to study and improve his skills at the institute. He also studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, graduating with a degree in Museum Management. In 1991, the Governor of New Mexico, Bruce King, recognized Shane for his artistic and academic accomplishments at IAIA.
Shortly after graduation, his creativity, design skills and sensitivity to the handling and display of art and artifacts was recognized by the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Shane was contracted to assist in the installation of the inaugural exhibit at the new IAIA Museum.
The museum work did not satisfy Shane’s personal creative needs. Therefore, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Arts. Shane was simultaneously riding bulls professionally and producing jewelry. He became proficient at advanced metalsmithing techniques such as marriage of metals, mokume and various forms of casting. His research of mokume-gane and the Samurai tradition from which the technique comes exposed parallels between it and his own Navajo traditions. The individual participant’s dedication and honoring of their craft as well as all other phases of their life define the person. Using the Japanese technique of laminating metals in his jewelry was not only symbolic of the way Shane walks in two worlds but also a physical representation of that.
Shane has received top awards at the juried Native American shows at the Autry Museum of the West American Indian Arts Marketplace, Eitlejorg Museum Indian Market, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Market and Santa Fe Indian Market. In 2018 Shane won the IAIA Alumni Award at Santa Fe Indian Market. He has won countless awards at the New Mexico State Fair including Best of Show in 2002. Shane has three times been named Artist of the Year by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association most recently in 2016.
Shane views jewelry as “sculpture for the body.” Balance and harmony are the core values that motivate Shane and define the hours of thought and hard work that he spends in his Albuquerque, New Mexico studio. Everything, from his practice of Natural Horsemanship, to art and to the time spent with his family, is entwined intimately. Shane continues to produce award winning work and to push his art to the limits to show his children and the world what is possible. His daughter Kateri is following in her father's footsteps as a horsewoman and a jeweler.
His lifestyle is reflected in the marriage of metals and mokume-gane techniques that form the foundation of his jewelry work. Hard work, sacrifice and dedication to his craft describe all that Shane has done so that today he can present to you and the rest of the world his masterpieces. Shane is a true example of art imitating life.
It is a real pleasure to know Shane and represent his work in our collections.
Have questions? Our customer services will be happy to assist you with all your questions regarding any of our jewelry pieces. Please give us a call at (540) 222-4997 for assistance.
The Supersmith Collection offers a selection of some of the highest quality Native American jewelry available in the southwest today. Nationally renowned designer David Rosales, is one of the finest contemporary southwest designers in the world today. He is the founder and co-owner of Supersmith, Inc. Hailing from Gallup, David has been in the jewelry business since 1984 and started Supersmith in 1997.
David and his partner John Delgado, have taken the industry by storm with their gorgeous stone combinations and settings. Not to mention that this has brought the handcrafted jewelry industry today to a new level. Their work has been featured all over the country including Caesar's Palace, In Style Magazine, and seen on the Ally McBeal Show.
Rosales has "handpicked" many of the Navajo and Zuni silver and goldsmiths that create each piece of jewelry by hand. The group at Supersmith's, strive to exceed expectations of designs and quality in beautiful, wearable art.
All pieces can be special ordered in a variety of stone color combinations set in sterling silver or gold. Rings can be ordered in any size.
Throughout the history of mankind, people all over the world have prized drums--the instruments of rhythm. Perhaps no other people have attached a greater significance to the spirit of the drum than the Indian tribes of North America.
The drum has played an inherent role in the lives of Native Americans for centuries. Prior to battle, the beat of the drum aroused a sense of strength and solidarity. In gatherings and celebrations, it created a sense of social and spiritual harmony. In Taos, New Mexico, Pueblo Indians continue to express their deep spiritual awareness through ceremonial dances accompanied by the resonant pulsing of the drum.
At the foot of The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in venerable, five-story adobe dwellings, is where the Taos Drum originated. And in the workshops of Taos Drums, native craftsmen from Taos Pueblo continue the age-old tradition of drum making. Every drum is crafted from natural materials and renewable resources over a year-long process. Drum frames are created from wood native to Northern New Mexico--cottonwood, aspen or pine.
All trees are harvested in a sustainable way under conscientious environmental standards. Logs are stripped of bark, hollowed out, cut into sections, then stored in a warehouse and slowly dried to prevent cracking. Dried wood is then leveled, rounded and sanded. Drum heads are made from cow, deer, elk or goat hides that have been thoroughly cleaned and scraped to maintain the highest level sound, appearance and durability.
After soaking the rawhide to make it pliable, the hide is hand scalloped, stretched and secured with rawhide lacing to the frame. Each completed drum has its own distinct voice. The type of wood, the depth and diameter of the frame, the thickness and tightness of the hide, the thickness of the walls, temperature and humidity all effect the tone. Each drum is then hand-painted by Native artisans.
Whether you are looking for a drum to use or as a piece of art to display, these drums are beautiful.
Among the Native Americans of the Southwest, Turquoise has historically been used for religious and ornamental purposes. For the Navajos it once passed as currency. Apaches liked to attach a small piece to the bow so that their arrows would fly true. The Zunis of western New Mexico incorporated Turquoise into nearly all aspects of life, from the sacred to the economic. Turquoise has been a part of Zuni religious practice for hundreds of years. Ground Turquoise is often set out as a part of an offering and the stone also adorns ceremonial objects. In Zuni tradition, the rich blue color of the stone symbolizes “the supreme life-giving power,” and fragments of turquoise are used for the eyes of fetishes and co-mingled with sacred corn meal and presented as an offering to masked deities. Most tribes believe that Turquoise brings good fortune and ensures a long and healthful life, hence its age old popularity as a personal ornament.
In New Mexico, Native Americans for centuries extracted Turquoise from the Cerrillos hills a few miles south of Santa Fe. This was the site of the most extensive prehistoric mining operation in America. As an article of trade, Cerrillos Turquoise found its way into the southeastern United States, northward into Canada and as far south as Mexico and the Mayan homeland. At prehistoric Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, archaeologists have recovered some 50,000 pieces of Turquoise, more than half of it in the form of beads.
Turquoise occurs almost exclusively in arid lands. In North America it is most abundant in dry, copper-rich regions of the Southwestern United States (Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico) where it has been mined aggressively since prehistoric times. Turquoise is found at high elevations and is almost never deeper than 100 feet below the surface of the earth. In the Southwest, the darker shades of blue and green Turquoise are considered the highest grades. Generally, the deeper and richer the color, the harder the nugget and the more easily it will polish to a high luster, an important determinant of gem quality. In other cultures where Turquoise is mined (such as the Middle East) pale shades of Turquoise command top price.
“Matrix” is highly prized in Southwestern Turquoise. It might be red, white, black, brown, golden or even lavender and is part of the mother rock that surrounds the Turquoise mineral deposit. There are three basic types of matrix. The Spiderweb matrix is most prized and resembles highly detailed netting that envelopes the mineral, inside and out. Nevada’s Number 8 Mine, a one-time gold and copper mining operation, has produced one of the most prized spiderweb Turquoise deposits in the world. Web matrix has a net-like pattern that is less precisely defined than spiderweb, yet its strands are still generally connected. Matrix Turquoise is the least valuable and most prevalent of the three with random and only occasionally connected veins of minerals running through it.
(From “The Allure of Turquoise”, New Mexico Magazine)
Wilson and Carol Begay, Navajo, started making their jewelry in 1969. Both come from native jewelry families who worked for C.G. Wallace and Kirk Brothers Trading Company in Gallup, New Mexico. The quality of their silversmithing and stone work is evident in every piece they produce. Each piece is made to last a lifetime and is a great addition to any collection. They work in sandcast (tufa cast) style which involves carving out the design in a piece of tufa stone, pouring molten silver into the mold and hand finishing every piece once it has cooled. Top quality stones are a signature of each piece.Many pieces include other silver techniques such as stampwork, mosaic inlay and chisel work.They work together to design each piece of jewelry with Wilson doing the silver work and Carol doing the stone setting and finishing work. Their hallmark stamp is WB under a hat symbol. The Begay’s live in Manuelito, New Mexico.
Located in western New Mexico, Zuni Pueblo is the largest of the nineteen New Mexican Pueblos, with more than 600 square miles and a population of over 11,000. It is one of the most traditional of the New Mexico Pueblos, with a unique language, culture and history that resulted in part from their geographic isolation. The main industry is the production of arts with perhaps 80% of Zuni families working at inlay silver jewelry, stone fetishes, hand-coiled pottery and other art forms. Zunis develop their skills in tight family settings. The spirit comes from within as Zunis are driven to the arts by culture, religion and their colorful surroundings. It is indeed an "artist colony".
Silversmithing was introduced to the Zunis in the 1870's by Navajo Indians and before that by Spanish explorers and missionaries. The use of stones and shells is particularly significant in Zuni designs while the silver is secondary, being the means by which the stones and shells are held in place and for decorative accents. Zuni jewelers are world renowned for their channel inlay patterns, fetish necklaces, cluster, needlepoint and petit point designs. The jewelry is meticulously crafted and the choice of colors in uniting stones and shells is remarkable. They use a variety of stones such as Turquoise, Jet, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite and Pipestone. Additionally, they use exotic shells such as Coral, Mother of Pearl, Pink and Black Lipped Clam Shell, Green Snail Shell, Melon Shell and Abalone brought in by traders. Coral is particularly favored because the color red is important in Zuni religion and directional symbolism.
Zuni is a sovereign, self-governed nation with their own constitutional government, courts, police force, school system and economic base. Their year is marked by a cycle of traditional ceremonial activities; the most sacred and perhaps the most recognized is the annual Sha'lak'o event. Most of Zuni's residents live in the main village of Zuni and the nearby Zuni community of Black Rock.
The Zuni Creation Story details how at the beginning of time ancestors emerged into the Fourth (modern) World from a location in the Grand Canyon and eventually found their way to Halonna:wa -- the Middle Place (present day Zuni Pueblo). Archaeologists have discovered evidence that the ancestors of the Zuni have roamed this area for over ten thousand years. Documented history began in 1540 when the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vasquez Coronado and his soldiers invaded the ancestral village of Hawikku in search of the fabled "Seven Cities of Gold (Cibola)". This violent beginning marked the first contact between Native Peoples in the Southwest that occurred over eighty years before the Pilgrims arrived on the Atlantic Coast. The Zunis relative isolation has always meant that dealings with the outside word remained sporadic and thus minimized influence on its culture.
Pueblos in New Mexico, including Zuni, planned and carried out a revolt against Spanish domination in 1680. As a result of this Pueblo Revolt, all six occupied villages in the Zuni valley sought refuge on the sacred Dowa Yallane mountain. After making peace with the Spanish in 1692, the Zuni people came down to consolidate into a single Pueblo at Halona Idiwan'a, which became known as "Zuni". By 1848, the United States Government had assumed control over all of the Southwest territory including Zuni lands. However, continual appropriation of Zuni lands by the U. S. Government as well as unscrupulous land grabbers shrank Zuni's aboriginal territories to a reservation a small fraction of the original size. A successful litigation by the Tribe against the U.S. Government in 1990 resulted in partial restitution for lands lost as well as damaged under governmental administration and protection. In recent years, Zuni was successful in blocking a major coal-mining project that would have seriously damaged the sacred Zuni Salt Lake, the home of Salt Mother.
(from "Spirit of Zuni" 2005)